It’s not about Election Day this year so much as it is about Election Season.
Concerns for the Covid-19 pandemic, the legitimacy of the vote in the context of President Donald Trump’s efforts to call that into question, and a near feverish determination of more citizens than usual to cast a vote this time have led to efforts to vote early and by alternative means.
Mail-in voting is already underway, and in-person voting begins next week.
In Falls Church, there is not only an election for president (the choices being incumbent Trump and Joe Biden), but also for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Warner, and for the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer. Also, there is the special election for the Falls Church City Council seat vacated by the death of Dan Sze last July. There will also be two Virginia Constitutional amendments on the ballot, one pertaining to establishing a Redistricting Commission designed to make the redistricting process more unbiased, and the other to make veterans exempt from car taxes.
Amid all the campaigning, more events have been announced this week to give local voters a good chance to evaluate the three candidates on the ballot to fill the vacant City Council seat.
In the latest development, Hal Lipmann, president of the
Falls Church’s venerable civic organization, announced Tuesday that the CBC will host three separate “Meet the Candidate” events, running one hour each, on successive Sunday afternoons at 5 p.m. to introduce the F.C. City Council campaigns of the three candidates who’ve qualified for the Nov. 3 ballot to fill the seat vacated by the July death of Councilman Daniel X. Sze.
Each hour will feature a different candidate, and based on pulling names out of a hat, the schedule will be Debbie Hiscott on Sept. 20, Josh Shokoor on Sept. 27, and Simone Pass Tucker on Oct. 4.
These events are in addition to online events featuring all three candidates together hosted by the F.C. Chamber of Commerce next Tuesday, Sept. 15, at noon and by the F.C. League of Women Voters on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
According to the City of Falls Church’s Registrar of Voters David Bjerke, a whopping 31 percent of registered voters in the City have already requested mail in ballots.
The requests have been made by letters, emails or through the “citizens” portal on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
This time, due to legislation passed in Richmond this year, voters do not need to give any reason for why they seek a ballot in advance or to vote in-person in advance, nor are any witnesses required.
The mail ballots will have prepaid postage attached, and ballots mailed in can be tracked on the VDOE website.
Bjerke told the News-Press this week that he is fully confident that mail-in ballots dropped with the United States Postal Service by Oct. 1 will be received and counted.
There will also be a City-run drop box located by the blue USPS boxes at the F.C. City Hall parking lot that will be available to receive ballots “24-7” that will also be surveilled “24-7.”
In person voting will commence at a location in the main corridor of the new F.C. City Hall on Friday, Sept. 18, and the site will be open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
He said that there are secure methods in place to ensure that no one votes more than once in the election, as well.
He said that everyone who has requested a mail-in ballot should receive it by the end of next week or very shortly thereafter.
For persons who have not yet registered to vote, the deadline to be able to vote in this November’s election is Oct. 13.
All election volunteer positions have been filled in the City, Bjerke said, and he encourages persons wishing to help with the election to contact other jurisdictions to see if they need help.
Routinely, the City of Falls Church has produced the highest voter turnout as a percentage of its voters of any jurisdiction in Virginia, and at the rate it’s going now, this fall will be no exception.